Alajuelense makes SCCL return after defeating Real Esteli 2-1

Alajuelense of Costa Rica will play in their first Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League since 2014/15 after claiming a 2-1 victory over Real Esteli of Nicaragua in the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf League quarterfinals on Wednesday night at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

It will be the sixth time that Alajuelense will participate in the SCCL, while Real Esteli will seek a seventh SCCL appearance in next week’s 2021 SCCL’s play-in game.

Alajuelense enjoyed the stronger start of the two sides and pulled ahead 1-0 in the 24’ through veteran MF Bryan Ruiz, who headed in a free kick whipped into the area for his first SCL goal.

Some fancy footwork and quick movement almost yielded a second goal for Ruiz shortly thereafter, only to see his shot sail wide of the post.

But Real Esteli would have an answer and it came shortly before halftime in the 44’. A streaking run down the right wing from Brandon Ayerdis ended with a cross into box for Juan Barrera, who got loose from a defender and beat Alajuelense GK Leonel Moreira to even the score at 1-1.

The home side sought to regain control at the start of the second half, and they found the crucial second goal in the 56’ when a flicked header from Alvaro Saborio was saved, but Adrian Martinez was there to follow up the rebound and fire into net to make it 2-1 to Alajuelense.

The Alajuelense defense then took over and kept Real Esteli at bay to nail down the victory and a place in the SCL semifinals.